Some of the most diabolical refereeing decisions ever made in the Championship yesterday saw Town go down to a single goal, against a very lucky Villa side. They say you make your own luck in football as in life itself but the luck that Aston Villa had yesterday was clearly manufactured by the man in the middle.
Referee Kieth Stroud has a chequered past when it comes to refereeing Ipswich Town in the Championship and over the years he has often been on the wrong side of the Tractor Boys. He has refereed Town more times than any other ref this season and on the three occasions he has been in charge, Town has suffered at his expense. None more so than yesterday, when he bizarrely gave Villa a penalty when Alan Judge was penalised for apparently pushing John McGinn – who flew through the air as if he was sky diving! I have looked at the evidence again and again and again, and I can see not even the faintest physical contact with the Villa player. Then when Collin Quaner broke clear and rounded the keeper, only for the ball to be swept away from a certain goal, by the arm of Tommy Elphick. Once again Stroud did not favour the Blues and a stonewall penalty was denied.
Throughout the afternoon, Stroud would work as Villa’s extra man and whether it was an advantage that was not played – or a drop ball after a Villa player held his head over the goal line to avoid an Ipswich cross, Stroud was always there to repeatedly make the wrong decisions. He is without a doubt in my view, the worst referee in English football and that really takes some doing! He was the ref I seem to recall who should have sent the keeper off when he clouted McGoldrick last season which resulted in a long term injury. Stroud’s refereeing record is far from complementary and it does not just impact upon Town.
It was the infamous Keith Stroud, whose penalty blunder in Newcastle’s victory over Burton last April, saw him stripped of his duties for the remainder of that season. Before this season he had not overseen a match since his mistake at St James’ Park when he wrongly failed to allow Matt Ritchie to retake his spot-kick. But since his reinstatement, he has reffed the Town games against West Brom when we lost 1-2 t Portman Road, and in the 3-0 loss to QPR in December. Like every other match Stroud seems to adjudicate in, controversy seems to follow.
Now we cannot blame referees for our current position in the Championship entirely, but if there is a judgemental nemesis at play, then it is surely this man!
Is it any wonder Paul Lambert was left drained of any enthusiasm in the after-match interview because he knew, as we all knew, that without this ref, we could and indeed should, have got something from the game. Stroud is an absolute disgrace.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich